Passion, Power, and Intrigue in An Enduring Family Drama

Friday, July 25, 2014

There is Something Seriously Wrong With Mom

"There is something seriously wrong with Mom," Tyler Schuyler told his older brother Brad. The two brothers were seated in the library at Schuyler Manor, watching television and being as unproductive as possible, two activities they both excelled at.

"What are you talking about? She's just the same as she always is," Brad said in a bored voice as he channel surfed. "How come no one shows reruns of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' when I can watch them? They always put them on when I'm not home."

"She is not the same as she always is," Tyler argued. "She's acting weird."

"She's always weird."

"Well, she's weirder. Have you looked at her lately?"

"Not really."

"You should. She's dressing like she's Tiffany's age in tight shirts and skirts that are way too short and her hair's all strange and straight and she told me yesterday that she's thinking about getting a tattoo."

"No kidding! Mom, a tattoo? Of what?"

"Of Cher."

"Why the hell would she get a tattoo of Cher?"

"Because she's decided that she looks like Cher and that if she has a tattoo of Cher on her shoulder, people will comment on the resemblance between the two of them."

Brad laughed. "You're right; that is weird even for Mom. Well, so what? She's entitled to have a little fun at her age."

"And then there's this." Tyler pulled a book out from under the sofa where he'd hidden it earlier that day. "I found it on her nightstand." Waving it it under Brad's nose, he asked, "Why would she be reading this?"

"If you'd stop waving it back and forth maybe I could read the title," Brad said. "What is it?"

"Cougar Lifestyles for Dummies," Tyler said. "Don't you see what's happening right under our noses? Mom is turning into a cougar!"

"Mom? Don't be ridiculous. Mom has way too much class too do anything like that. She'd never become a cougar--she'd look like an idiot if she showed up at the country club with a younger guy."

"Remember that police officer she moved in here last year?" Tyler questioned. "He was younger than Mom."

"That was just some strange pre-menopausal fling," Brad told him.

"Then what about this?" Tyler reached under the sofa again and pulled out his mother's cell phone. "Mom been texting some guy named Chuck. Or should I say she's been sexting him. Some of her messages are pretty embarrassing."

"You stole Mom's cell phone and read her texts? I think you're the one with the problem, Tyler. Ever since you broke up with Mindy, you've gotten definitely strange. What do you care who Mom dates or doesn't date? You need to get out more."

Tyler played his best card. "I'm just thinking about our inheritance," he said darkly. "If Mom did get remarried, her new husband might go through all the money that we're supposed to inherit especially if he's a lot younger than she is and outlives her."

"No one could go through that much money," Brad argued.

"They could try."

At last he had his brother's full attention. "So what can we do about it?" Brad questioned.

"Simple," Tyler replied,. "We have to find a suitable date for our mother ourselves. And I know exactly just the right guy--that is, unless you want Mom to get Cher on one shoulder and Sonny on the other."

"Of course I don't! Let's get started. After all, we're only thinking of Mom."

"Naturally," Tyler agreed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What's a Cougar?

The problem with living in a small town, Mavis Schuyler mused, was that it was so amazingly predictable. Especially for someone like Mavis, self-proclaimed Queen of Schuyler Square and the one woman that all other female Schuyler Square-ites longed to emulate. And the problem with predictability was that it could get a touch boring.

Making her way to her bi-weekly appointment with Mr. Keith, Mavis walked past at least half a dozen other women who eyed her with an envy so obvious that Mavis almost felt sorry for them. Really, it wasn't her fault that she'd been born wealthy, beautiful and fairly bright. Nor was it her fault that her late husband had also been fabulously wealthy. People simply had to accept the fact that rich people almost always married other rich people. Such unions were guarantees of good genes and decadent bank accounts. With a satisfied sigh she pushed open the door of Mr. Keith's Creations and took a deep breath of the hairspray scented air.

"Mavis!" Mr. Keith greeted her effusively. "How do you do it?" he demanded. "Those eyes, that hair--those cheekbones! You're such a gorgeous creature. What are you doing in a backwater town like Schuyler Square?"

Although Mr. Keith's remarks were almost identical to what he said to her each time he saw her, as Mavis sank into Mr. Keith's chair she found herself actually listening to him for a change. What was a stunning creature like herself doing in a dumpy little soap opera town like Schuyler Square? There was no reason for her to stay. Her husband was dead, her children were a disappointment and the police kept acting like she had something to do with that unfortunate murder of that dreadful little chemist a few months back. She should move to New York or Rome or Paris. She owed it to herself.

"I see you have another admirer," Mr. Keith said an hour later as he brushed out her hair. "Although I'm not surprised. You really are such a cougar."

"A what?" Mavis asked.

"A cougar. You know--a beautiful middle-aged woman who can't help attracting younger men." Mr. Keith nodded toward the mirror they were both facing. "Look at that. He can't take his eyes off of you."

Looking into the mirror Mavis saw a stunning man staring at her from across the beauty salon. With his tousled brown hair, big blue-grey eyes and pretty amazing cheekbones of his own it was like looking at a movie star. A very sexy, very young movie star who just happened to be a dead ringer for Liam Neeson. "Who is that?" Mavis whispered.

"Chuck Foster. He just bought the restaurant next door. He comes in here to get his nails manicured once a week. Not bad, I'd say."

"No," Mavis agreed, "not bad at all--although he is a touch younger than I am." Like ten or fifteen years but she'd never admit that to Mr. Keith.

"That's why you're a cougar," Mr. Keith explained. "You attract younger men like flames attract moths. It's a gift, Mavis. Especially in a small town where men who are your age are about as rare as blizzards in August."

He had a point. "Is he married?" Mavis asked. Married men were too complicated, something she knew after her unfortunate entanglement with a married police officer the year before.

"I don't know. Why don't you ask him? He's coming over here and believe me it isn't to ask me for my number.

Mavis felt a surprising attack of nerves. Just that morning she had been bored and tired of small town living. Looking up into Chuck Foster's amazing grey-blue eyes she had the feeling that something extremely interesting was about to happen and that being bored was the last thing she needed to worry about.

"Hello," Chuck Foster said in a deep, velvet smooth voice. "You're dying to meet me, aren't you?"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fritz Who?

Tiffany Schuyler was more than a little disgusted with her life lately.  For starters, her boyfriend Rex was such a disappointment. Make that a major disappointment. When she met him he had shared his dream of having his own rock band with him as lead singer, complete with tight leather pants and gruesome tattoos. It hadn't take a very large stretch of Tiffany's somewhat limited imagination to envision an exciting life as the future wife of a rock star. A life filled with plenty of rides in limousines, wild parties after concerts and possibly even a reality show like Tori Spelling's--only Tiffany and Rex wouldn't let the cameras film their fights. Just the wonderful times so that everyone Tiffany had ever gone to school with would be insanely jealousy and regret having ever made fun of her or not picking her to be on their softball team.

But Rex wasn't a rock star. He wasn't any kind of star. The jerk didn't even have a regular job. All he seemed to want to do was sit around their apartment, drink beer, fart and watch The Price is Right--not exactly the dream boyfriend Tiffany longed for.

Then there was her father. Her real father, Tom Hartman, whom she hadn't even known existed until a little while ago. If she had to have a long lost father pop up, why couldn't it be someone with tons of money and a limited interest in parenting. Tom wanted to bond all the time and was constantly asking Tiffany to go on walks with him and take her out for ice cream. She wasn't a three year old! Why didn't he get that? Tiffany didn't want to bond with Tom. She wanted a father who would pay for her wedding, tell her she was beautiful and leave her alone. Was that so much to ask for?

Finally, and worst of all, there was her weight loss. Or her former weight loss. After losing all that weight on Fat Off, Tiffany had gained most of it back. Nothing depressed her more than not being able to fit into the cute clothes she bought when she was skinny. If she could just get her hands on one more can of Fat Off--but how?

"Tiffany? You home?" Rex banged into the apartment, instantly setting Tiffany's fragile nerves on edge. Tiffany was in the bedroom lying down. Maybe she could pretend to be asleep. That way she wouldn't get dragged into another stupid argument with Rex over whose turn it was to go out for carryout. That was another disappointing thing about Rex--he could eat Burger King every single night. What was wrong with Hardee's once in a while or Taco Bell?

"Tiffany?" Tiffany shut her eyes as the bedroom door opened. After a second, Rex left. She heard him flop on the sofa and turn the television set on. Heaven forbid that he should be thoughtful about keeping the house quiet while she was napping. A moment or two later she heard another sound. Rex was talking on his cell phone. She frowned. Who could he be talking to? Although Tiffany wasn't exactly totally in love with Rex, she still didn't want him cheating on her.

Tiffany crept to the door and opened it a crack.

"Yeah, I know," she heard Rex say. "You told me that. I know all that crap. Would you let it drop? I told you that I'd take care of it!" He sounded annoyed and Tiffany instantly felt better. If he was cheating on her, he'd sound a lot nicer to his girlfriend--for awhile at least.

"Look, no one is ever going to be able to trace any of that back to either of us! I told you that I took care of everything."

Tiffany's stomach grumbled. She'd give anything for a Snickers bar. Maybe in a few minutes she'd pretend to wake up and they could go to the store or to Burger King for dinner since she was feeling a little more charitable toward Rex since he wasn't cheating on her.

"In a few months no one is even going to remember Fritz," Rex said. "So forget about it. I have." He ended his call and Tiffany went back to the bed to lie down. That was strange. Fritz who? Her blood suddenly ran cold. Fritz--wasn't that the name of the creepy scientist who got killed?

Why would Rex be talking about him?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another Likely Suspect?

“I don’t believe it,” Mindy said flatly. “There’s no way that you could ever convince me that Tyler had anything to do with Fritz’s murder.”
“Why is that?” Peter quizzed. “Because you two were engaged or because you believe that he has such a sterling character?”
“Both,” Mindy replied stubbornly. “You don’t know Tyler. He’s the only decent person to ever come out of the Schuyler family. He’s good natured, good hearted—he’d never kill anyone.”
“Maybe he had a good reason that you don’t know about,” Peter countered. “After all, the two of you broke up a long time ago.”
“But Fritz was murdered while Tyler and I were still together,” Mindy pointed out. “I’d know if my fiancĂ© had killed someone, wouldn’t it?”
“You’d be surprised,” Peter replied. “People are capable of hiding all sorts of things when they are properly motivated.”
“Even murder? That would take one hell of a motivation.” Mindy sighed and glanced at the clock hanging on the wall of the newsroom. It was almost time to go home. She wished Peter would get to the point and go away. While she found Officer Van Husen extremely attractive, she was also finding him extremely annoying. The man took forever to finish a conversation. “So what’s this evidence you have anyway?”
Peter drew a deep, self important breath. “It seems that Tyler was seen having a fight with Fritz shortly before Fritz was murdered.”
Mindy waited. When Peter didn’t continue she said, “So what? Plenty of people had fights with Fritz. He had that kind of personality. Prickly. Why, offhand I can name at least three people who had a fight with him the week he died.”
Peter leaned forward, his blue eyes intent. “Who? And Why didn’t you mention this to the police before?”
“I’m sure I did.”
“Well, humor me and tell me again.”
Thinking back, Mindy held out her hand and began to list the people who didn’t get along with the late chemist. “You’re right about Tyler; they didn’t get along and they did have a fight but it was nothing major. Tyler thought Fritz was interested in me and he told him to leave me alone.”
“Jealousy. Always a factor in crimes of passion.”
Mindy ignored him. “Then there was Bernard. Fritz and Bernard were always fighting over money and Fat Off. Fritz thought Bernard was taking advantage of him. He was right about that.”
“Bernard has an ironclad alibi,” Peter said. “Who’s the third suspect?”
Mindy sighed. “That would be me although I don’t appreciate being called a suspect. I didn’t kill Fritz.”
“You? What would you two have to fight about?”
Mindy sighed again, more deeply. “Tyler was right about Fritz. He was coming on to me and after one too many grabs in the lab I told him to knock it off. He laughed and told me that he could always tell when a woman was interested in him and that I showed all the signs of wanting to go to bed with him. That’s when I bopped him with a Bunsen burner.”
“Are you saying that you hit him with a lethal weapon?”
“I’m saying that I tapped him lightly with a lab tool,” Mindy clarified.
“Did you knock him out?”
“No! Fritz Weiss was alive and screaming the last time I saw him!”
It was Peter’s turn to sigh. “I’m sorry to tell you this, Mindy, but you’re going to have to come down to the station with me.”
Mindy couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Are you kidding me? Why would I kill Fritz?"
"You tell me. All I know is that you're another likely suspect and I'm sure that our detective would like to ask you a few more questions."
Shaking her head, Mindy glared at Peter. The crush that she had on him dried up like a puddle on a hot day and was quickly replaced by a huge wave of pure contempt. Honestly, her taste in men had become truly appalling. The next time she got a crush on anyone, she was going to make sure that it was on someone normal.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Some Days It Really Doesn't Pay to Get Out of Bed

"How nice it is to see you again, Peter," Mavis said as she walked down the wide staircase toward the tall, blond man standing in her foyer. "You look wonderful."

"Hello, Mavis. It has been a long time. You're looking good too."

"Thank you," Mavis replied. She reached Peter's side and tried not to shiver. She had forgotten how tall and commanding he looked in his uniform. "Would you like to go into the den? Carrie is going to bring us a pot of coffee."

"All right," Peter agreed.

Together they walked down the hallway that led to the mahogany paneled den, Mavis stepping slightly in front of Peter so that he could enjoy the view of her tiger striped leggings and black cashmere tunic. He had always appreciated her in animal prints. When they reached the den, she sat down regally in her late husband's armchair and gestured for Peter to sit next to her. "Now tell me why you're here," she requested. "Why you're really here."

"I told you on the phone. There's been a lead in the murder of Fritz Weiss."

"Why would that matter to me?" she asked coyly.

Peter looked around the room uncomfortably. "Well, unfortunately the lead points to a member of your family."

Mavis laughed. "How could anyone in my family have possibly been involved with that grubby little scientist? He was hardly the kind of person that we would socialize with."

"Maybe not but a few things have surfaced about him and your son Tyler."

Mavis felt her good mood begin to fade. "Tyler? I doubt Tyler ever met Fritz Weiss."

"Didn't Tyler work at Kutrate Kemicals for a while as a custodian?"

"Only when he was helping that lowbrow ex-girlfriend of his. The job didn't last very long. Tyler doesn't know one end of a broom from the other."

"I wouldn't know about that, Mavis, but a source has told us that Tyler was seen having a heated argument with Fritz Weiss a few days before Weiss was murdered."

"So what?"

"I'd like to talk to Tyler. Is he home?"

Not only was her good mood gone but Mavis felt the bad mood that she'd woken up with return with a vengeance. Here she had thought that Peter wanted to rekindle some of their romance when all he wanted was to question her baby boy over some silly murder. "No, he's not."

"When will he be home?"

Mavis got to her feet. "I have no idea but if you want to question Tyler about anything, I suggest that you do it through our lawyer. Good-bye, Peter."

Slowly Peter got to his feet. "I guess this mean that we aren't having coffee?"

All of the reasons why she had broken up with Peter--or why she hadn't been too heartbroken when he had dumped her--came rushing back. His simple nature, his obtuseness, his apparent inability to recognize sarcasm when he heard it. "No, Peter, we aren't having coffee today or any other day. You can see yourself out." Stalking out of the den, Mavis headed for the staircase and the sanctuary of a steaming bubble bath followed by a few more hours of sleep. Honestly, some days it didn't pay to get out of bed and this was all to clearly one of them.

Almost tripping over Carrie who was approaching the den with a loaded tray, Mavis glared at her hapless maid. "Will you kindly watch where you are going?"

"Don't you want coffee?" Carrie asked.

"No! The officer is leaving!" Mavis huffed down the hallway.

Waiting until her boss had disappeared, Carrie continued into the den. "Mrs. Schuyler doesn't want coffee," she told the good looking police officer, "but perhaps I can do the honors in her place this morning."

Peter's blue eyes met Carrie's and slowly smiled. "That would be very nice," he told her. "Very nice indeed..."

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's Been a Long, Cold Winter.

Mavis Schuyler woke up in a crabby mood. This was nothing unusual since Mavis had woken up in a crabby mood for almost every day of her fiftysome years but this morning her mood seemed extra crabby, as if she'd slept on a head of those hard pink plastic curlers, something Mavis Schuyler had never done in her entire life. But that was how she felt. Like she was being poked by something cheap and uncomfortable.

Getting out of her king-sized bed, Mavis reflected that she was being poked by something cheap and uncomfortable--her oldest son's newest fiance, Claudine. Her mouth tightened into a hard straight line at the thought of Claudine. There was no way that Mavis was buying Claudine's story that she was some kind of vegan-hippie-existentialist who just happened to fall in love with someone as wealthy and materialistic as Brad Schuyler. No, Claudine had set her cap for Brad and it was up to Mavis to remove her from Brad's life the same way she would take her son to a dermatologist to get a wart burned off. It was driving Mavis absolutely insane that Brad couldn't see the trap that Claudine had laid for him and how he was walking into it so blindly.

Mavis pulled on a cashmere bathrobe and went downstairs. Maybe a cup of coffee would improve her mood.

"Good morning, Mrs. Schuyler," Carrie said when Mavis entered the kitchen.

"Good morning," Mavis mumbled. Carrie silently set a cup of coffee down in front of Mavis. Mavis did like the way her new housekeeper had the sense not to say more to her than a simple good morning every day. That was one plus in her life. For once she had decent help.

Mavis slowly sipped her coffee, her mind focused on the Claudine problem. If only that bum Rex would do what he promised to do and get rid of Claudine. What was wrong with him anyway? She made a mental note to drop in on Rex later and remind him of their deal. Honestly, do I have to take care of everything?

The house phone rang and Carrie hurried to answer it. "Just a moment please," Mavis heard her say. "Mrs. Schuyler? It's for you."

"Who is it?" Mavis snapped.

"Someone from the police department. Peter Something or other."

Her crabbiness vanished. Peter Van Husen was calling her? Although their affair had ended ages ago, Mavis still got shivers whenever she saw Peter driving around town in one of Schuyler Square's squad cars, his blond hair gleaming underneath his cap. He might be a city employee but he was still the best looking man Mavis had ever met. Perhaps he was calling to ask her out to dinner. Of course she'd say yes. What harm could that possibly do?

Mavis took the phone out of Carrie's outstretched hand. "Thank you. Hello, Peter? This is a surprise. How are you?"

"Hello, Mavis." Peter's voice was just as deep and sexy as she remembered. "I'm calling about an investigation I'm conducting. Do you suppose I could drop in at your house in about an hour?"

"Of course," Mavis replied, instantly seeing through Peter's 'investigation' ploy. He was dying to see her again. Not that she could blame him. Mavis must have been the highlight of Peter's entire romantic spectrum. "I'll see you in a while."

Mavis returned the receiver to its cradle, her face thoughtful. Hmmmm. Peter wants to see me again, probably to pick up where we left out. Well, why not? It's been a long, cold winter. I could use some excitement.

"Carrie," she said as she got to her feet, "Officer Van Husen is coming over in a while. I'm going to get dressed. Will you please turn on the fireplace in the den and make fresh coffee before he gets here?"

"Of course," Carrie said.

Mavis sailed out of the kitchen, all of her morning crabbiness along with her worries about Claudine disappearing under the prospect of a visit from Peter Van Husen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A New Year in Schuyler Square

It's a new year in Schuyler Square but the murder of Fritz Weiss remains unsolved. As the case has grown cooler and cooler, interest in it has waned too. With a bitter winter on hand, the good people of Schuyler Square are more concerned with keeping warm than anything else...

"This winter sucks," Sandi Cooper announced to her sister Mindy. "I think I'm going to blow this pop stand and join Mom. Where is she now?"

Mindy looked up from the cup of hot chocolate she was holding in lame attempt to warm her freezing hands. The landlord turned the heat down to 60 degrees at ten o'clock each evening no matter what the temperature was outside. "I think she's in Florida right now at a Herman's Hermits reunion event."

"How does she afford to just travel?" Sandi asked. "It's not like she ever worked or anything. What is she living on?"

"Probably Dad's life insurance. She told me once that he took out a huge policy just in case he died while we were little and she needed to support us."

"So she's spending all that on chasing has been teen idols around the country." Sandi looked disgusted. "Pathetic. What we need to do is find a rich husband for each of us and then we won't have to sit in freezing apartments for the rest of our lives."

"Money isn't everything," Mindy remarked. "Look at me. I was engaged to Bernard, the wealthiest man I ever met, and I was miserable. I'd much rather marry someone for love."

"Someone like Peter Van Husen?" Sandi slyly suggested.

Mindy blushed. "Of course not but speaking of Officer Van Husen, how's the murder investigation going?"

"Oh, it's pretty much dead in the water. No one knows who killed that weird scientist and no one cares. I haven't talked to Peter about that in ages. Maybe you should call him up and see what's happening. You are supposed to be an investigative reporter."

"I'll let someone else on the paper handle it."

"Why? Are you avoiding Peter? You know, I think he has a big ol' crush on you. You should do something about that."

"You're being ridiculous. All I care about is finding out who killed Fritz and why. This town is too small to have an unsolved mystery."

Sandi pulled out her cell phone and pressed Peter's number. "Then tell our local stud police officer that. Here."

"Sandi! I don't want to talk to Peter!" Mindy recoiled from the telephone and then ducked as  her sister threw it at her.

"Hello?" Peter's voice floated up from the cell phone. "Sandi? What's up?"

Reluctantly, Mindy picked up the phone. "Hi, Peter. It isn't Sandi. It's Mindy."

Peter's voice brightened considerably. "Mindy! I don't believe this. I was just thinking about you. There's been a lead in the murder of Fritz Weiss."